Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How to Disappoint the Right Way

Do you feel guilty if you have to say no to someone? I know I do! I saw this article on ABC NEWS. I took the liberty to simplify it, but if you want to check out the entire thing go to:
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Books/Story?id=6622458&page=1

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It's amazing to see what some people will do to avoid hurting or disappointing others. Even though everything inside of you screamed "No!" perhaps you agreed to take on a new client just because you didn't want her to feel rejected. Or maybe you argued with your spouse about not having enough time together, and then you found yourself agreeing to run a fund-raiser for your child's school that very day, simply because you wanted the other parents to know how committed you were. Every day people make critical decisions based on what others want, knowing on some level that they're committing an act of self-betrayal. The role of the good girl (or boy) is a tough one to turn down.

So what happens when you start to let people down and they get upset? In fact, you may lose some relationships that you thought were important to you. This is bound to happen, because if you tend to overgive, you've trained those in your life to expect it and they'll question you once you stop.

Remember that by making your needs a priority, you're also changing the rules.
Don't be surprised if someone close to you—a best friend, family member, or spouse—tries to reel you back in by making more demands or tempting you with guilt. When this happens, the worst thing you can do is give in, as that sends mixed messages and teaches others to doubt your word. Instead, you need to be honest, direct, and resolved to take care of yourself. Don't overexplain, defend, or invite a debate about how you feel. The fewer words, the better.

Here are some guidelines for staying on track and taking good care of yourself:
  • Buy some time. When someone makes a request of you, there are two things you should do. First, put space between the request and your answer. Before quickly responding, "Yes, I'm in!" take some time to consider the consequences of your response. Always say, "I'll need to get back to you," "I'll need to sleep on it," or "I need to check with someone before I commit" (even if that someone is you).
  • Let the person know up front that you may not be able to oblige. Preparing people early on for the possibility that you won't be able to help them does something else as well. It encourages those who are asking for help to consider other options sooner rather than later.
  • Do a gut check. Once you've bought yourself some time, ask yourself: "On a scale from 1 to 10, how much do I really want to do this?" The closer your answer is to a 10, the more you should consider saying yes. If you're still not sure, ask yourself this: "If I knew this person wouldn't be angry, disappointed, or upset, would I say no?"
  • Finally, be honest and polite. Respond with something like "In an effort to take care of myself and to spend more time at home, I need to decline your offer, although I'm honored that you asked."

5 pretty purplexing comments:

  1. It is SO hard for me to say no! I am usually the one upset because I say yes and have to live with doing something I dread doing.
    Thanks for the guidelines I will have to remember those.

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  2. Me too! I am such a sucker in an effort to help out anyone! I've tried to figure out why I'm that way. Perhaps to feel needed?

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  3. Hi Tami! Left an answer to your question in my comments...meanwhile....I never have trouble saying no, but I say no respectfully. xoxo

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  4. I read your post nodding all the way through. I had only been on the phone earlier today, having a fairly new acquaintance ask if she could spend some time with me to 'learn my system' as she put it. One of the things in 'my system' (I never even knew I had one lol...) was to always look after myself. I now have requests, and sit on them, I don't answer straight away. It has to suit me and my family, otherwise I will gracefully decline. Like Ina, I'm always polite and flattered that I've been asked - but I walk away breathing a quiet sigh of relief in the realization that my sanity, at least for the moment is safe.

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  5. Hi Tami,
    I hope you got your package and liked it!
    I think because I have teenagers and have for nine years now that I am VERY comfortable saying no. Like Ina I try to be gracious.
    In the past I would avoid or passively get out of things that I said yes to when I shouldn't have. People were always annoyed. I find most people can deal with a no if said in the right way.

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